After drawing interest from multiple NHL teams, Czech defenseman Jan Rutta has decided to sign with the Blackhawks, the team announced Wednesday. It's a one-year entry-level contract.
“Jan has been on our radar for a number of years and he has shown great progress on the ice during that time,” GM Stan Bowman said in a statement. “His addition to the organization makes our defense more dynamic and he has shown he can contribute offensively as well.”
The 26-year-old blue liner has spent the last four seasons playing for the Pirati Chomutov in the Czech Extraliga, where he was teammates with recently-signed Czech forward David Kampf.
Rutta ranked second in the league with 34 points, racking up eight goals and 24 assists in 46 regular-season games during the 2016-17 campaign. He also tallied two goals and 11 assists in 17 playoff contests.
Rutta scored one goal in eight games during the IIHF World Championships with the Czech Republic, sharing a blue line with current Blackhawks defenseman Michal Kempny.
With Brian Campbell (38) and Johnny Oduya (35) set to hit unrestricted free agency on July 1, and the possibility of losing Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft or via trade, the Blackhawks could use some fresh blood on the back end.
At 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, Rutta has a right-handed shot and is known to be an offensive defenseman. He turns 27 in July, and gives the Blackhawks an option to hop into the lineup right away.